We asked outgoing Payson High School wrestling coach Casey Woodall to express his thoughts and feelings about leaving PHS to return to his alma mater at Morenci.
Since his resignation was made public, fellow coaches in the district have speculated that it was partly due to the dire financial straits of the PHS sports programs.
Most coaches have long been upset about the district mandate that directs coaching salaries must come from pay to play fees, club accounts and Credit for Kids rather than the maintenance and operations budget.
That is a highly unusual practice that occurs in very few other schools.
Coaches have called it humiliating, time-consuming and a “slap in the face.”
Prior to Woodall’s resignation, several other coaches resigned saying the practice of fund-raising for paychecks played a role in their decision to leave.
One current coach predicts that even more dedicated, young coaches will be jumping ship if the practice continues.
Woodall, in his comments to the Roundup, reveals that eliminating sports funding, including that for salaries, from the M&O budget, played a role in his decision to step down.
“First, my family and I have thoroughly enjoyed living in Payson and working for Payson Unified School District.
“The town is a truly beautiful place and the people here have been nothing but supportive and welcoming to us.
“So it is with a tinge of regret that I accepted a position to return to my hometown of Morenci, Ariz. While I certainly am excited to return home, I will miss the athletes, parents and people of Payson who have been extremely supportive of me.
“I have some great relationships with some of the best kids that any coach could have the pleasure of coaching.
“They truly made going to work every day the last three years a pleasure, and that is hard to walk away from.
“The reality of the situation is this, our district does not pay particularly high, and the cost of living in Payson is higher than most places. Because of the financial strain that our district is under, the district has chosen to eliminate funding for sports through the M&O budget.
“While I certainly can sympathize with the financial strain put on the district by the state Legislature, this is a decision that I am strongly against.
“I believe that sports and other extracurricular activities are an extension of the classroom, and should be treated (and funded) as such. The coaches of Payson are faced with the unreal expectation of fund-raising up to $20,000 to pay for uniforms, travel expenses, entry fees, coaches’ salaries, and other expenses, all while working a full-time teaching job and finding time to coach on the side.
“We are also tasked with talking kids into paying a $250 sports fee in order to come out for a sport, only to find out they will now have to fund-raise to pay for all of the things previously mentioned.
“In my opinion, this has made it very difficult to do what most coaches got into the profession to do — work with kids. I feel the combination of these factors is to blame for the high turnover rate in coaches the last few years in PUSD.
“While all of these factors are nobody’s fault, it certainly has made it hard for myself and other coaches at PUSD.
“That said, I do not regret coming to Payson for a moment. While I am looking forward to my new opportunity, I will miss many things about Payson, but mostly the people.
“I wish all Payson and PUSD nothing but the best in the future and will always fondly remember my time in Payson.”
School sports physicals
Free physical exams for Payson High and Rim Country Middle School athletes who have no family physician or insurance will be offered free of charge from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 8 at the Payson Christian Clinic, located at 701 S. Ponderosa, Suite D.
Student-athletes must bring with them an AIA Sports Physical History card filled out and signed by a parent.
Only those with no physician or insurance are eligible for the exams.
The Eighth Annual Payson Spring Triathlon is Saturday, June 8.
The event starts at 6:45 a.m. at Taylor Pool in North Rumsey Park.
The event consists of a 500-yard swim, 15-mile bike ride and 5K run.
Register early. The top 150 finishers receive a participation medal.
Fees: $50 for individual or $75 for a team. For ages 15 and up.
Contact the Payson parks office, (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 for details.
PHS Basketball Camp
This basketball camp will focus on the fundamentals of shooting, passing, dribbling, offense and defense. The camp is designed for all youth in third to 10th grades. Coaches Bill Farrell, Joe Sanchez, Cameron Davis and PHS basketball players will be putting on this camp. Please support the PHS basketball program and give your kids the opportunity to continue to work on their basketball skills.
Registration is open until June 10. The camp is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., June 10-13 at the Wilson Dome. The cost is $40 per child, which includes a camp shirt.
Register online at paysonparks.com or in person at the Parks and Recreation Office in Green Valley Park.